January 6, 2016

New Years Resolutions: Tips to make those healthy lifestyle goals stick

Every January most of us make resolutions to get healthier, lose weight, change our bad habits into stellar new ones and then within two weeks we are back to our old routines.
Why the failure rate?
There are many reasons we fall short of succeeding. Setting goals that are unattainable, not having a support system set up, setting unrealistic deadlines, wanting to change to please others and not ourselves, and the list goes on.

Years ago, after so many times falling off the New Years Resolution Bandwagon, I took a step back and tried to figure out why I wasn’t making my goals stick. As a true Type A I researched How to keep those New Year’s Resolutions.……and after reading many articles, many books and spending many hours analyzing the facts, I finally realized that I was pretty much making every mistake possible for not succeeding.

I’d been making lofty outrageous goals, had short term plans, never told anyone what I was doing, and gave up at the drop of a hat. These had disaster written all over them.

Learn from my mistakes and an oldish Sage (Okay, I’m not old but I’m not young either!)…. here’s my personal list of how to stay on track when you make a healthy lifestyle resolution or goal.

1. Make it doable – this may sound obvious but setting your sites on losing 50 pounds in a month is not doable, not in a healthy or long term successful way. Losing 50 pounds over the course of the year is a doable goal. That would work out to losing 1 pound a week, which is a healthy doable goal. Its called a lifestyle change not a quick fix. You aren’t on The Biggest Loser the TV show, you’re on This is Your Life your own personal reality show.

2. Break your goal down into smaller steps. Planning on eating healthier is too broad. It’s needs to be specific and attainable and something that is easy to do, to start. You can embrace being a more plant based eater down the road, but if you’ve never had a bean or a lentil before and you switch to all vegetarian diet you are probably setting yourself up for failure and a whole lotta gas…..easy does it. Add 1-2 vegetarian style meals a week to start.

3. Add a new behaviour, like eating a new healthy food or adding a new exercise, every couple of weeks. For most people a new habit takes between 2-6 weeks to become part of their day.  Never eaten 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day and that’s one of your goals? Start off by adding 1-2 extra servings every day for 2 weeks and keep building on that by adding one more serving every couple of weeks. One of the easiest habits to cultivate is to add an apple to your day. I always choose local apples. I’m supporting my healthy lifestyle and I’m supporting our local farmers and saving money to boot. Then add another fruit or vegetable and by the end of 2016 you will be eating those 7-10 servings and not even thinking about it. Tip: balance is key, aim for 2-3 servings of fruit and the rest in vegetables.

4. Enlist a healthy lifestyle buddy. We all do better when we have a support system in place, it also helps you with accountability. I seriously dislike going to the gym, but my husband and I go together, so I’d be letting him down if I didn’t go. Bonus: even if I don’t like the thought of going to the gym I always feel fabulous after I’ve been.

5. And no matter what, just keep going. The definition of success is get up more times than you fall down. I was inspired by Chris Froome and borrowed a picture from his Twitter account to share with you. The picture is his, I wrote the quote, or maybe I borrowed that from someone too…….

Most people want to follow a healthier eating style so here are some tips on how to add healthier foods to your day, week, month and year:

  • Want to add more fibre to your day? Adding 1 tbsp/15 mL of ground flaxseed is an easy doable goal. Sprinkle it on your cereal, yogurt, or add to your salad. Buy flaxseed pre-ground or grind it yourself. Bonus Health Canada just gave flaxseed a health claim. One to two tablespoons of ground flaxseed can help lower your cholesterol.  Two of my favourite Canadian flaxseed producers are Omega Crunch  and  fee fi fo flax.
  • Looking to add more leafy greens? Kale is still a rock star and depending on where you live fresh local kale is still available this time of year. Sautéed in oil and garlic , or adding it to soups is a great way to serve if aside from finely chopping it for salads. No kale? Try local dark leafy lettuce. To get your green veggie count up in the winter months try local frozen peas, summer months there is green leafy bounty aplenty.
  • We all need whole grains and popular Canadian choices are barley, oats,  wheat, spelt, or buckwheat. Try cooking up a pot of barley and using it instead of rice.
  • Want to add more fibre and lower your food bill? Eat more pulses, the correct name for beans, chickpeas and lentils. They are nutrient packed and heart healthy and an economical source of protein. 2016 was deemed the Year of the Pulses and my website and any of my cookbooks are a cornucopia of pulse recipes. Here’s a fabulous recipe for Chipotle Chili from my latest cookbook Homegrown Celebrating the Canadian foods we grow, raise and produce. Filled with 160 recipes written with the Ontario Home Economics Association, and yes, this is a total pitch for you to buy this fabulous cookbook!
  • Size matters; especially portion size. You can eat too much good stuff just as easily as you can eat too much bad stuff. Practice measuring your food out to see what a serving size really is, you are probably going to be surprised.
  •  Use smaller plates. Yes, it’s mind deception but it works. We tend to eat what we see, get a huge plate filled with food, you eat it. Use a smaller plate filled with food and you’ll end up eating less food, as long as you don’t go back for seconds.
  • Slow down. It takes twenty minutes for your brain to send the “I’m full” message if you are scarfing down dinner, you will eat way more than your body needs before you get the “I’m full” message. One of the food lessons I learned when I went to Italy was that people sat down to eat meals and took their time to eat. Enjoy your food by slowing down how fast you eat it.
  • Sit at a table to eat. No more mindless eating at your desk, in the car or in front of the TV. We need to pay attention to what we are eating, it helps you’re brain send the “I’m full” message.
  • If you buy it you will eat it – don’t bring junk food or the foods that taunt you into your home. If it’s not there you can’t eat it. Years ago, and I’m talking about 12 years past, I was a cookie freak. Every time I baked cookies, I ate all of the cookies. So I thought, “Why am I tempting myself?” I stopped baking them and eventually I stopped wanting them. Now, I bake cookies occasionally and eat them as a treat.
  • If you are trying to lose weight I suggest Weight Watchers. They know their stuff because its about lifestyle changes not short term fixes.

You can do this.

You have one body and you owe it to yourself to take great care of it.

This is a journey, pick a goal and keep plugging away at it.

I’m here if you need encouragement.

Peace, love and fibre,


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